While both teams did graduate some talented seniors last year, Carlisle especially has some holes to fill with the loss of two-time SWBL Buckeye Division Offensive Player of the Year Ridge Reed and four linemen on both sides of the ball.
Franklin, which returns Southwestern Division Offensive Player of the Year Ryan Montgomery, won’t miss having to game-plan for Reed, but Wildcats coach Brad Childers said there are plenty of other players to worry about on the opposite side of the field.
“It’s nice not to have to plan for Ridge Reed anymore, but they still have a lot of good players,” Childers said. “They have a heck of a quarterback in Jake Moore, the (D.J.) Chambers kid is back, and we’re definitely going to have to game-plan for them.”
• FRANKLIN WILDCATS
• MADISON MOHAWKS
Moore is expected to be more of a dual-threat quarterback after throwing for 513 yards and nine touchdowns and rushing for 227 yards and four scores last year while often handing off to Reed and also graduated Zayne Hart.
Chambers (421 yards rushing, five touchdowns) also will become a more central part of the offense and is a big threat with his speed.
“The bottom line is we have to establish and control the line of scrimmage,” Childers said. “Both teams have good athletes, and the team that makes plays up front is going to win.”
Brown said stopping Montgomery will be key for Carlisle, but also noted the strong play at quarterback with Braden White returning.
Montgomery, who played running back and some quarterback last year, rushed for 1,935 yards to go along with 41 touchdowns and finished with 3,424 all-purpose yards. White completed 139 of 200 passes (69.5 percent) for 2,055 yards, 26 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
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“Limiting the big play for us on defense is going to be crucial and also limiting big plays special teams-wise,” Brown said. “The best way to stop them might just be with the ability of our offense to control the ball a little and dictate the pace of the game.
“Our theme is just to have relentless effort and play as hard as we can. We’ve done that at times this preseason, but now we’re just looking for all 11 players on the field to do that because that will give us our best opportunity to win.”
The win last year for Franklin sparked a 10-0 run through the regular season, while Carlisle opened 0-2 before closing with eight straight victories heading into the playoffs.
“It should be a great game,” Childers said. “It’s two communities that love football, and it’s the first game to kick off the year. We know it’s not about the past and we will get their best game, but we’ll give them our best game too.”
What: Franklin at Carlisle, 7 p.m.
Where: Laughlin Field, 250 Jamaica Road, Carlisle
Last year: Franklin won 30-27